A Rose is a Rose but what Kind of Rose?

Floribunda, Old Rose, rambler, climber, hybrid tea, damask… There seem to be scads, if not thousands, of different kinds of roses. They come in all shapes and sizes, from miniatures to climbers and ramblers that will take over the entire landscape, very simple flowers to flowers that make bees wonder if they’ve fallen into an M.C. Escher drawing, colors from pure white to deep purple to almost black to “all-of-the-above.” Some thrive from being ignored, some almost require being tucked in every night. After DYCs*, roses seem to be the largest swath of generic flowers. “What is that?”

“A rose.”

“What kind?”

“Red.”

Arrrrrgh! Continue reading

If Blood be the Price of Admiralty…

I’m not certain why the line never registered until I read Keegan’s book by that title. I’d read the lines before, but they had not sunk in.

We have fed our sea for a thousand years
And she calls us, still unfed,
Though there’s never a wave of all her waves
But marks our English dead:
We have strewed our best to the weed’s unrest,
To the shark and the sheering gull.
If blood be the price of admiralty,
Lord God, we ha’ paid in full!

There’s never a flood goes shoreward now
But lifts a keel we manned;
There’s never an ebb goes seaward now
But drops our dead on the sand —
But slinks our dead on the sands forlore,
From the Ducies to the Swin.
If blood be the price of admiralty,
If blood be the price of admiralty,
Lord God, we ha’ paid it in!

We must feed our sea for a thousand years,
For that is our doom and pride,
As it was when they sailed with the ~Golden Hind~,
Or the wreck that struck last tide —
Or the wreck that lies on the spouting reef
Where the ghastly blue-lights flare.
If blood be the price of admiralty,
If blood be the price of admiralty,
If blood be the price of admiralty,
Lord God, we ha’ bought it fair! Continue reading

Long Ago, in a theater not so far away…

my parents sat me down in a seat. The curtains parted. Trumpets sounded, a bunch of words moved past almost too fast for me to sound them out, and then and the biggest…thing…I’d ever seen slowly appeared on screen. Everyone in the theater gasped as a starship filled the screen, and kept coming, and coming… I was pretty young, but even I knew that the dude in the black cape was Bad News. I was hooked, hard, and never looked back.

That amazing film opened 40 years ago this past Thursday, May 25th. Continue reading

Book Review: Die Geier-Wally

Von Hillem, Wilhelmina Die Geier-wally Kindle Edition.

This isn’t the sort of book I’d usually read in English, but it is well-known in German literature as an example of a Heimatroman and Alpenroman. And it was inexpensive, so I got a copy. The novel, about a young woman in the Ötztal in southern Austria in the 1870s proved to be an intriguing book, in part because of how differently a modern author would  probably depict some of the characters. But von Hillem’s landscape descriptions are spectacular, and her writing engrossing enough that I plowed through. Continue reading

Why not? Thoughts on the Commentary on Manchester

Massive Rant. You have been warned.

“How could they be so cruel as to attack children and young people?”

Because they are called “terrorists” for a reason.

“Why bomb a concert with lots of young people?”

Because they want to make life so horrible that you give in to their every request, and killing kids is a great way to do just that. Continue reading

Book Review: The River, the Plain, and the State

Zhang, Ling. The River, the Plain, and the State: An Environmental Drama in Northern Song China, 1048-1128 (Cambridge University Press, 2016) Print edition.

Chinese imperial management of water has been one of the critical keys to following the history of imperial after the Zhou Dynasty. Some of the bedrock work in US environmental history took as its starting point Karl Wittfogel’s “Hydraulic empire” thesis, looking at state control of water and society and how that relates to the development of both the US government and the American West. Because Chinese records are so copious, a lot of work can and has been done looking at how the Chinese lived with and coped with their major rivers and the hydraulic “systems” that developed over thousands of years. This book focuses on a small space in time and shows how the complicated interactions of state, environment, and society caused, then reacted to, and were shaped by, the Yellow River changing course between 1048 and 1128. Continue reading

Live Forever? Oh Heck No

Mom and Dad Red were watching a documentary about the Amur River the other night. I was listening with half an ear, trying not to add commentary, and reading a book about a different Chinese river. One of the commercials was an advertisement for a program about what if humans could eliminate all the things that keep us from having physical immortality. My first reaction was to mutter, “I’ve read that book. It was depressing.” My second was to recoil from the mindset that would find physical immortality so desirable. Because to me it suggests a world that gives up on the idea of an eternity, and focuses on the material alone. We’ve seen that. It gets ugly, very quickly. Continue reading